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Breast reduction (male)

Some men have one or both breasts that are abnormally large.

Known as gynaecomastia, this condition can be caused by a hormone imbalance or from being very overweight, which can increase levels of oestrogen and cause breast tissue to grow.

Breast reduction surgery is an option for men with gynaecomastia. It may also be used to tighten the breast area after significant weight loss that has caused the skin to sag.

However, surgery is not suitable for men who have large breasts simply from being overweight.

Breast reduction surgery is not usually available on the NHS

Male breast reduction surgery is not usually available on the NHS. You'll probably need to pay to have it done privately.

In rare cases, the NHS may provide male breast reduction if:

  • you've had gynaecomastia for a long time
  • it has not responded to other treatments
  • it's causing considerable pain or distress

How much male breast reduction surgery costs

In the UK, breast reduction surgery for men costs £3,500 to £5,500, plus the cost of any consultations or follow-up care that may not be included in the price.

What to think about before you have breast reduction

Before you go ahead, be sure about why you want breast reduction surgery. Speak to a GP about it and take time to think about your decision.

Find out more about whether cosmetic surgery is right for you.

Choosing a surgeon

If you're having breast reduction in England, check the Care Quality Commission (CQC) website to see if the hospital or clinic is registered. All independent clinics and hospitals that provide cosmetic surgery in England must be registered with the CQC.

Be careful when searching the internet to look for doctors and clinics who provide breast reduction. Some clinics may pay to advertise their services on search listings.

Check the surgeon is registered with the General Medical Council (GMC). They should be listed on the specialist register and have a licence to practise.

Also, check the British Association of Plastic Reconstruction and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS) or the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) to see if the surgeon is a "full member" on the specialist register for plastic surgery.

Book an appointment with the surgeon before the procedure.

Ask your surgeon:

  • about their qualifications and experience
  • how many male breast reduction operations they've done
  • how many male breast reduction operations they've done where there have been complications
  • what sort of follow-up you should expect if things go wrong
  • what their patient satisfaction rates are

Read more about choosing who will do your cosmetic procedure.

What male breast reduction involves

Breast reduction surgery is usually done under general anaesthetic. In some cases, local anaesthetic with sedation may be used.

The operation involves:

  • making a cut around the nipple
  • removing excess fatty tissue with a scalpel (surgical knife) or using liposuction to suck it out (a combination of both techniques may be used)
  • repositioning the nipples if a lot of tissue needs to be removed

You'll have dressings over your wounds.

The operation takes about 1.5 hours. You usually need to stay in hospital overnight.

Recovery

It can take several weeks to fully recover from breast reduction surgery. You may need to take a few days off work. You may have sore, swollen and bruised breasts for a few weeks.

You'll need to wear an elasticated compression garment day and night for 1 to 2 weeks after the operation. This helps support your chest while it heals.

How long you need to keep the dressings on will depend on how quickly your wounds heal. After 1 to 2 weeks, your stitches will either dissolve or be removed.

Avoid stretching, strenuous exercise and heavy lifting for about 3 weeks after the operation. It will take about 6 weeks until you can return fully to your normal activities.

You can drive again when it's no longer painful to wear a seatbelt, which may be several weeks after the operation.

It can take up to 6 months to see the full results of your surgery.

Scars

Most men just have a scar around their nipples. But a large breast reduction may also result in a vertical scar and a horizontal scar across the breast crease (an anchor-shaped scar).

Your scars may take several months to fade.

What could go wrong

Breast reduction surgery can occasionally result in problems, including:

  • thick, obvious scarring
  • unevenly shaped breasts or nipples
  • wound healing problems
  • loss of nipple sensation
  • bleeding inside the breast tissue (haematoma) – this usually happens within the first 24 hours after the operation
  • developing lumps, bruising or swelling

Also, any type of operation carries a small risk of:

  • excessive bleeding
  • infection
  • an allergic reaction to the anaesthetic
  • a blood clot forming in the deep veins

Your surgeon should explain how likely these risks and complications are, and how they will be treated if you have them.

What to do if you have problems

Cosmetic surgery can sometimes go wrong, and the results may not be what you expected.

Contact the clinic where you had the operation as soon as possible if you have severe pain or any unexpected symptoms, such as red skin, burning, or unusual swelling.

If you're not happy with the results of your breast reduction, or you think the procedure was not done properly, speak to your surgeon at the hospital or clinic where you were treated.

You can contact the Care Quality Commission (CQC) if you have any concerns about your care. If necessary, you can make a complaint about a doctor to the General Medical Council (GMC).

The Royal College of Surgeons also has more information and advice about what to do if things go wrong.

Further information

British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS): gynecomastia 

Royal College of Surgeons: cosmetic surgery FAQs

Page last reviewed: 20 September 2019
Next review due: 20 September 2022